Health and safety should not be a responsibility assigned to a particular individual or part of an organisation, but an integral part of everyone’s role. There needs to be much broader ownership of the issues. This means engaging everyone who shares the responsibility for helping Great Britain work well, because they have a vital role in managing risk and preventing damage to individuals, businesses and the economy.
Across each nation, region or sector, we need collective ownership that best reflects local circumstances. The regulators will retain their key roles, providing targeted advice and guidance for key audience groups and taking enforcement action when and where necessary. Encouraging others to take ownership of health and safety will be critical in making this theme successful. This means everyone collaborating to reach those who may have been less engaged.
Tackling ill health
Work-related ill health is a problem for every section of society, with conditions ranging from cancer and other long-latency diseases, to stress and musculoskeletal disorders. Greater awareness of the harm, costs and preventability of work-related ill health should drive collective action to improve health outcomes.
This will require long-term and coordinated action across all sectors, bringing in additional partners such as the NHS and others to support the substantial behaviour change and awareness programmes that will be required.
A key element of this theme will be in earlier prevention, which is more cost-effective than trying to intervene when a person is suffering from more serious ill health. This will involve a greater focus on health issues at work, while continuing to ensure that maintaining standards around safety remains a priority.
Managing risk well
Successful organisations understand that sensible and proportionate risk management is integral to delivering their business. This approach supports growth, enables innovation and protects an organisation’s most vital asset, its people. Positive outcomes can include reduced sickness absence, lower costs and a good reputation. Promoting this compelling business case should help even more businesses to make the most of the many benefits a good health and safety culture can bring.
Sharing examples of practice, supported by targeted, relevant advice and information will allow the system to set a common understanding of what proportionate health and safety looks like. Health and safety professionals have an important role to play. Helping businesses of all sizes get it right in an efficient and effective way will build trust and improve standards.
Supporting small employers
Reaching micro and small businesses can be difficult, but not impossible. Working together, much has already been done to help small businesses, but there are opportunities to work smarter. Already many large businesses and intermediaries have developed efficient supply chains and productive relationships by working with and supporting small businesses.
Many organisations also provide free help and support to SMEs outside their supply chains through cross-sector initiatives.
For SMEs, managing workplace risks shouldn’t be complicated or costly. Making support available which is quick and easy for small businesses to understand, so that they can fulfil their obligations, remains a challenge for all sectors.
It will also be important to identify who the key influencers are for SMEs, working with them to raise awareness levels about the peer and expert support that is out there.
Keeping pace with change
Great Britain leads the world in anticipating and tackling the new health and safety challenges that come with social, economic and technological change.
This ability to horizon scan, when combined with the deep knowledge and unrivalled expertise of the system, means that anticipating new health and safety challenges is an area where Great Britain can play a leading role, for example through HSE’s world-leading research capabilities. They are already being put to use helping Great Britain, as well as countries around the world, to improve health and safety, as well as better business outcomes.
To remain a world leader in risk management, Great Britain needs to develop high-quality capability, anticipating the workplace challenges of tomorrow and using the flexibility of our goal-setting approach to solve them in ways that enable innovation and the use of new technologies.
Tackling the problems of tomorrow today is a responsible investment that protects workers, enables new and different approaches and provides the new knowledge, skills and expertise Great Britain can share internationally.
Sharing our success
Everyone can take pride in Great Britain’s world-class reputation for health and safety and promote its success at home and abroad. Creating a world-class system is a goal we can all unite around and benefit from as a source of inspiration and achievement, and can also be pleased to support.
This strategy has largely concerned itself with improving standards in Great Britain. But we should also look to share best practice and the latest thinking and innovation around the world. This can help influence health and safety systems overseas and make it easier for British businesses to expand into new markets and territories. The work can also bring commercial opportunities for selling British health and safety ‘products’ or consultancy.